News & Events

Statement from Donna Kelly-Williams on Question 1 Election Results

Statement from Donna Kelly-Williams

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Good evening. My name is Donna Kelly-Williams, and I am the proud president of the Massachusetts Nurses Association, representing nurses in over 70% of the acute care hospitals here in Massachusetts. 

I’ve been a bedside maternity and pediatric nurse for over 40 years, and I am also the proud mother of a nurse who has just begun her career.

I am joined here tonight by other bedside nurses who dedicate themselves to caring for patients across Massachusetts every day. 

These frontline nurses have given everything to advocate for patient safety, fighting to make sure that our patients receive the highest quality care.

I know that you have given your hearts and souls to this campaign, and I am so incredibly proud and beyond grateful for everything you have done. 

We are all disappointed by tonight’s results and the impact this will have on the patients we care for every day.  

We know that right now – as I speak to you here – there are nurses caring for too many patients,

and those patients are unnecessarily being put in harm’s way. 

And the problem continues to grow every year. 

The status quo is not a solution here. 

The hospital executives opposed to Safe Patient Limits cried hysteria and chaos about the cost of these safety measures, but clearly spared no resource – with just under $27 million and counting – in an attempt to drown out the voices of bedside nurses calling for help. 

These tactics, rooted in fear and confusion, seem to have worked. 

The voters deserved better. 

But … 

This issue is now in the public, finally outside the walls of the hospitals. 

Nurses – in spite of aggressive intimidation by their employers – have engaged the public outside their workplace like never before. 

Along the way, hospitals have admitted there is a problem. 

They just don’t want to be held accountable with limits. 

We’ll wait, along with those patients in harm’s way, to see what their proposed solution is. 

The standard of nursing care in our acute care hospitals should not be defined by your zip code or by your socioeconomic status. 

All patients deserve a safe standard of nursing care, and this advocacy – this fight – won’t be over until we achieve the equity that all patients deserve. 

For our patients and their families:

The red book you received for this election contains the proposed limits. 

Those limits are the staffing limits according to the professional standards for each of the units in which you seek care. 

Keep this as a reference. 

And do not be afraid to speak up for your loved ones in the hospital.

They deserve nothing less.

To all of those who have worked educating the public on their rights and the need for these standards: Thank you. 

That work has made a lasting impact, making the public aware and putting patients and their families in a better position to advocate for themselves.

Nurses from every hospital in Massachusetts have been engaged in this campaign.

Nurses from around the country have watched and joined us to help, as they, too, see this as a crucial patient safety issue.  

  • Nurses of National Nurses United, the American Federation of Teachers, Communication Workers of America, the New York nurses, the Rhode Island nurses, and Pennsylvania nurses – they came here to fight for patients. 
  • Nurses from Alaska, Oregon, Ohio, California too.

Nurses from around the globe have sent videos and words of encouragement through social media:

  • From Australia, where states like New South Wales, Queensland, and Victoria have these patient limits.

The nurses of Ireland, the Canadian Nurses Federation, and Nurses of the United Kingdom – you all added your voices in the fight for our patients.  

And our allies from the Building Trades, the Mass Teachers Association, Unite 26, AFT, Firefighters, the Teamsters, the Pipefitters, and so many others:

You are a remarkable group of people who care deeply about those who are most vulnerable in need. 

We thank you.

Tonight, I say a deep and heartfelt thank you to everyone who voted yes today. 

Tomorrow is a new day, and we’ll awaken, ready to continue the fight for our patients.